COVID-19 update and Metro News; March 10, 2021

•COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain down from the surge earlier this winter. Metro continues to run about 80 percent of its service for essential trips. Metro is planning to boost service in June and then return to full pre-pandemic levels of bus service in September.

•In order to restore bus service, Metro is hiring bus operators. Please see the job description on metro.net to apply. Also, the L.A. County Department of Public Health is now listing public transit workers as eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

•Speaking of…Go Metro to get vaccinated….

•Exciting new video of the first tunnel boring machine arriving at the Purple (D Line) Extension’s Wilshire/La Cienega station in Beverly Hills in late February.

In the news…

•The House of Representatives today voted to approve the $1.9-trillion relief bill that includes about $30 billion to help transit agencies in the U.S. cope with the costs of the ongoing pandemic. Those funds include about $1.4 billion to help agencies continue to build major capital projects, including Metro’s Regional Connector and Purple (D Line) Extension.

As for other aspects of the bill, from the Washington Post:

The legislation will also send $350 billion to cities and states, $130 billion to schools to help them reopen and devote billions more to a national vaccination program, expanded coronavirus testing, food stamps, rental assistance and more.

Republicans say the bill goes too far and funds too many items not related to the pandemic. Others have taken issue with how the funding is broken down.

As the headline states in the LAT, here are some unflinching photos of the scope of homelessness in our region.

•Ridership on transit in the New York City region remains down 40 to 80 percent, depending on the type of transit, reports the NYT. Buses in Gotham have retained more of their pre-pandemic ridership compared to the subway and commuter rail.

LA Metro just posted its ridership for February — we were at 45 percent of our ridership in Feb. 2020 just before the pandemic hit. We were at about 50 percent of normal from September through November last year between the second and third surges in the virus. As for ridership in the immediate future, the X factors will likely be how quickly schools reopen and how telecommuting for office workers continues in a post-pandemic world.

•Amtrak is hoping to expand with an emphasis on regional corridors — i.e. the type of trips 400 miles and under in which trains can be competitive with flying, so says the NYT. Would sure be great if more Amtrak track in So Cal could be double-tracked to speed up trips. Fun fact: the 190 mile trip between DTLA and San Luis Obispo takes at least five hours when Amtrak isn’t delayed by freight traffic.

•Not a transpo article but Politico looks at the alarming rise in home prices across the U.S. (well, not alarming for the lucky sellers). Low-income people and younger workers are hit the hardest, with a diminishing chance to build equity and possibly get a tax break. The pandemic may have helped slow rising rents in many places — but I don’t think holding sky-high rents in place can be seen as any kind of victory.

Interesting BBC article about using plastics to help pave roads. A lot of plastic gets recycle — and a lot of plastic ends up polluting the environment. So maybe this could help make some pollution useful.

4 replies

  1. Just thinking this may be quasi Metro-related. Heard from news yesterday that LA Marathon will be held on Nov 7, 2021. I just don’t get why LA Marathon makes this choice again and again, picking the FIRST morning of DST time change to hold the marathon. Not that I am a participant, but come on!

  2. Y’all need to restore service, Metro is flush with cash from 3 stimulus bills. No reason to be running 4 trains an hour in our rail lines cmon at rush hour cmon, people still need to get to work.

    • Hi Burritomiles;

      We’re currently running trains every 12 minutes during peak hours and keeping an eye on ridership to see if we need to reevaluate. In February, rail was carrying about 36% of the riders it carried in Feb. 2020 — just prior to pandemic. As for stimulus money, it certainly helps and is helping pay for additional expenses incurred during the pandemic and making up for lost revenues from fares and local sales taxes (which have been up and down over the last year). With vaccinations starting to make some inroads and reopening well underway, we’re in a bit of a wait-and-see mode to see how ridership responds.

      In the meantime, thanks for riding and hanging with us. Like you, we want things back to normal, too.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source